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COVID-19 cases fell in Kansas counties with mask orders, rising in others

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – As counties in Kansas decide how to respond to government Laura Kelly’s new order across the state, a new study shows that counties that adopted the governor’s first term this summer saw a decline in COVID-19 cases.

Laura Kelly Wearing a Blue Shirt: Kansas Government Laura Kelly on Inauguration Day at Kansas State Capitol January 1[ads1]4, 2019 in Topeka, Kan.

© Mark Reinstein / Zuma Press / TNS
Kansas Government Laura Kelly at the Inauguration Day of the Kansas State Capitol on January 14, 2019 in Topeka, Kan.

Among counties with orders, the seven-day rolling average of new cases fell by an average of 6% in the month and a half after the mandate. Meanwhile, cases in counties without mask needs saw an average increase of 100%.

The analysis – conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment – was published Friday in the CDC’s weekly report on morbidity and mortality.

“Kansas counties that had mask mandates in place appear to have mitigated the transmission of COVID-19, while counties that did not have mask mandates continued to experience increases in cases,” the study said.

The results come as Kelly highlights masks in the fight against the latest wave of COVID-19s that are filling hospitals across the state. Cases have risen to unprecedented levels in Kansas and are now translating into rising admissions.

The Democratic governor’s new order takes effect Wednesday with the delay designed to encourage counties to adopt their own mask orders. Counties are allowed to keep their own orders when the state mandate takes effect. Local leaders also have the option to opt out of the order, as they did in July.

Kelly is also launching a public campaign to encourage the use of masks and other COVID-19 precautions and the rollout of expanded testing throughout the state.

“I am committed to an all-over COVID mitigation strategy,” Kelly said Friday.

Kansas has registered an additional 5,939 COVID-19 cases and 84 deaths since Wednesday, KDHE Secretary Lee Norman said Friday. Current hospital admissions hit a full-time high of 1,039 on Thursday, according to the COVID-19 Tracking Project.

The CDC report adds to a growing number of analyzes suggesting that the mask order this summer helped keep case growth down in counties that followed it. Research from the University of Kansas Institute for Policy and Social Research also found that in the wake of the July order, mask counties kept cases flat, while counties without masks saw growing numbers.

The CDC-KDHE analysis looked at the 24 counties that had one mask mandate per. August 11 and examined rate percentage between June 1 and August 23. The study showed that while the rate was higher in mandate counties than in non-mandate counties, rates in counties with mandates fell “significantly” after July 3 compared to non-mandate counties.

The study acknowledges that it did not account for the effect of cities with mask orders in counties that are not masks. But it also said the results were consistent with other states requiring masks.

“The decrease in cases among mandated counties and the continuing increase in cases in non-mandated counties contribute to evidence supporting the importance of wearing masks and implementing policies that require their application to reduce the spread of (COVID-19 ), ”Says the study.

As the number of cases increases, Republicans have been more subdued in their opposition to the new mandate compared to the summer. During a briefing for the top lawmakers on Friday, no one gave criticism.

In written statements, some legislators have expressed personal opposition to mandates, while making it clear that the election rests with the individual counties. “The decision is still in their hands, and I will always believe that state restrictions are not the answer,” said Senate President Susan Wagle, a Wichita Republican.

Health leaders have been encouraging mask use for several months. David Wild, vice president of performance improvement at the University of Kansas Health System, said Friday that in general, “anything we can do to increase compliance with masking throughout our state will benefit us all.”


© 2020 The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.)

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